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Circus family buy camels during lockdown to produce ‘white gold’ milk

Heard the one about the British farmer selling milk from camels he bought in Spain?

Go on, pull the udder one! No, seriously, it’s true. Maria, Seraya and Sinai are pumping out the so-called “white gold” at a relatively modest daily rate.

But it’s early days in this venture which has certainly helped Joe and Rebecca Fossett get over one hump – the impact of lockdown.

The former circus pair have 13 camels in all and were reeling after the pandemic put the kibosh on their racing and polo events.

They hit on the idea of dairy, bought a milking machine from the United Arab Emirates and are now selling – to locals and followers on social media – at £20 a litre.

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The former circus pair have 13 camels
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Image:

WILLIAM LAILEY / CATERS NEWS)




The caravan of camels join quite a menagerie at the idyllic Cotswolds farm run by Joe, 60, and Rebecca, 50.

There are five rare breed pigs, two horses, three cats, three dogs, two tortoises and 15 or so chickens.

But animals have been Joe’s life. He was brought up in the famous Fossett’s Circus family and for 35 years trained lions, tigers, elephants, bears, horses and, yes, camels.



After milking, the camels roam a stunning 15-acre plot
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Image:

WILLIAM LAILEY / CATERS NEWS)




His focus turned to camels alone some two decades ago amid an outcry over circus animals.

The dairy plan was hatched when lockdown brought a halt to their shows.

Last year the Fossetts bought their three milking camels.

Intelligent Joe says: “I have always loved camels. They’re so caring, affectionate and intelligent. When lockdown happened we thought, ‘What are we waiting for, let’s do it’.



Joe, 60, and Rebecca, 50 on their farm
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Image:

WILLIAM LAILEY / CATERS NEWS)






The Mirror’s Laura Connor headed out to the farm for a day
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WILLIAM LAILEY / CATERS NEWS)




“And we started milking in April. Our stuff is straight from the camel so all that goodness is still packed in there. It’s still early days, so we will see how things go.

“We’ve always been committed to the highest standards of welfare and they’re incredibly well looked after.

“People are surprised how well behaved they are. It’s down to how well-trained they are.



Research has suggested camel milk is lower in fat and lactose and loaded with vitamins and minerals
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Image:

WILLIAM LAILEY / CATERS NEWS)




“Now we’ve got cats, dogs, horses, pigs, chickens, tortoises and camels all living here with us now – and they’re all part of the family.”

There have been one or two hairy moments. Farm hand Ryan McGinley, 27, was bitten on the arm and spent a week in hospital.

Joe was left sore too after one of the beasts kicked him. But in general, he says, they are quite timid.



Joe was brought up in the famous Fossett’s Circus family and for 35 years trained lions
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Image:

WILLIAM LAILEY / CATERS NEWS)




After milking, the camels roam a stunning 15-acre plot – used recently as a backdrop on Good Morning Britain’s weather bulletin.

The Fossetts’ children Leo, 20, and Daisy, 22, like to muck in when home from uni.

Chemistry student Leo has concocted White Russianstyle cocktails, while Daisy has sold milkshakes at local markets.

Leo even made a dramatic entrance to his school prom by riding there on a camel with pals.



It sells for £20 a litre
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Image:

WILLIAM LAILEY / CATERS NEWS)




The Fossetts were approved to sell camel milk after inspections by the Food Standards Agency.

And Rebecca is evangelical about its possible benefits. She has piles of research suggesting camel milk is lower in fat and lactose, is loaded with vitamins and minerals – and reputedly cures a hangover, which could be handy after a Leo cocktail.

It’s been lauded as a remedy for a range of conditions in North Africa and the Middle East for centuries and is said to boost libido.



The Fossetts have also sold camel urine to some customers
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Image:

WILLIAM LAILEY / CATERS NEWS)




Rebecca also swears by its beauty benefits, saying: “I went to see a dermatologist to get my capillaries done in my face and she tested the hydration in my skin.

“Three months later I went back and the only thing I had changed was the camel milk and my skin had improved on all counts.”

Camel milk can be big business. Long-life Camelicious, produced by 6,000 camels owned by UAE prime minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, has been on Asda shelves since 2017 at £12.98 a litre.



Rebecca also swears by its beauty benefits
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Image:

WILLIAM LAILEY / CATERS NEWS)




So could store sales be on the Fossett horizon?

“We have lots of options,” says Rebecca as she sips a camel milk cappuccino.

“But we’ll take each step as it comes. The milk has been a great bonus. I love it!”

The potential doesn’t stop at milk. The Fossetts have also sold camel urine to some customers who believe it has medicinal benefits.



Joe says his camels are caring and affectionate
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Image:

WILLIAM LAILEY / CATERS NEWS)




The couple admit they have faced protests at some of their events from people opposed to camel racing.

They pulled back from working with big cats some two decades ago amid an animal welfare backlash.

That coincided with Rebecca falling pregnant, as she explains: “We were thinking about travelling to Las Vegas on tour with our lions and tigers but then I got pregnant.



Worker Ryan was bitten on the arm and spent a week in hospital
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Image:

WILLIAM LAILEY / CATERS NEWS)




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“It didn’t seem like the best time to be working with lions and tigers. So it was actually an accident that we fell into camels.”

Joe launched Joseph’s Amazing Camels, which have appeared on TV and film including Location, Location, Location, Countryfile, Nativity and even an e-Harmony advert.

One of their popular events is the festive Three Kings and Their Camels procession in local towns. They hope to revive it this winter. And will, of course, milk the applause.



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